*If Schools Must Resume in Southern Cameroons in September*
_By Christopher Fon Achobang_
Schools in Southern Cameroons have been shutdown since 21 November 2016 following protests against the marginalization and assimilation by the Cameroun Republic (Francophone) of the Southwest and Northwest regions of the former British Southern Cameroons (Anglophone). The protests quickly degenerated into violence with the kidnapping, killing, maiming and raping of many unarmed students and civilians in towns across the Anglophone regions.
Attempts had been made to resolve the crises, albeit with sheer threats, intimidation, calumniation, brutalization, kidnapping of Anglophone leaders and their detention in concentration camps in Yaounde. As government radicalized, the perceived oppressed became steadfast in their resolve to gain freedom by all means. School goers became the unwitting victims of the self-destruct fight among Cameroonians and their parents.
Education is very important in the development of human minds and capital. But education for the sake of just going to school has been counterproductive to Southern Cameroonians. Anglophones leave school at the highest level and are relegated to doing menial jobs while their less endowed Francophone counterparts are admitted to professional schools and given the best jobs in Cameroon. The percentage of unemployment among university graduates in Cameroon is highest in the Anglophone community than the Francophone or those close to the ruling junta.
The Anglophone places a very high premium on education. Nobody should be deceived to believe that education has been destroyed in Southern Cameroons. If the shutdown from November 2016 has slowed down some school goers, it must be seen as a blessing in disguise. … and if schools must resume in the two Anglophone regions on 4 September 2017, a couple of things must be done …
The Anglophone wants his freedom to be what and where he wants. Beyond political freedom, the sense of being somebody other than the enemy in the house, Biafran, Anglofou and other invectives heaped on this Cameroonian minority must be addressed expediently.
On purely systemic education considerations, the overhauling of the Cameroon educational system is overdue.
A curriculum service was opened in the Ministry of National Education in the 1990s for the purposes of proposing an appropriate educational system for Cameroon. I was privileged as a graphic artist to be invited to the curriculum service by Noel McNamara, then British Council curriculum expert seconded to Cameroun’s Ministry of Education, to be part of a team doing a comparative study of educational systems. We looked into the British, French, Francophone and Anglophone Cameroon educational systems.
Findings concurred that the Cameroon Anglophone subsystem of Education was closer to the international standard in the sciences just like the French Educational system. It emerged that Anglophones who could speak and write French had a better chance to succeed in the sciences at a French University in France than their Francophone counterparts.
This was because the Cameroun Francophone subsystem of education remains trapped in the 1960s mathematics syllabus of France, while France herself had moved on to being in tune with the international standards embraced by the Cameroon Anglophone subsystem of education.
When Anglophones failed to qualify for the national polytechnic in Yaounde and other professional schools, it was not because they were less competent but because the examination was for an antiquated mathematics syllabus and archaic logic.
It was therefore recommended that if Cameroon wished to harmonize her educational system, it should adopt the Cameroon Anglophone subsystem of education. Nothing happened!
This was a thrilling moment for me in 1994, because ten years earlier in 1984, Bamenda erupted into violence as there was an attempt to impose the Francophone subsystem of Education on West Cameroon. Perhaps, Dr. Adamu Ndam Njoya, then Minister of National Education did not fully appraise the political contours of the decisions he was expected to implement.
Many years after, and in ripe old age and retirement, Dr Adamu Ndam Njoya either still loathes the Anglophone subsystem of education or he has just simply surrendered to learning the English language and its values. The Anglophone is also still waiting to see this fine Bamoum mind from Foumban, where the aspirations of the Anglophones were buried, rise to the occasion, as a politician, to indict Cameroun for its excess abuse of the human rights of the Anglophone.
As individuals, the Francophone fully appreciates the findings and conclusions of the curriculum team. While Cameroun government openly behaves like there is nothing good in the Cameroon Anglophone subsystem of education, francophone members of government secretly enroll their children in Anglophone secondary schools across West Cameroon. These children of Adam, instead of copying the good conduct of their Anglophone counterparts during their immersement, rather pollute and contaminate youths across West Cameroon. Deviance and many vices alien to West Cameroon schools have increased exponentially.
If schools in West Cameroon must reopen, there must be an entrenched policy to reject francophone candidates from enrolling in our schools. Francophones seem to frown at good morals. They openly condemn the subject RELIGION appearing on the Cameroon General Certificate of Education (GCE) results. They exclude religion as an entry requirement to higher education and entrance examinations into professional schools. Such a despicable orientation has produced some of the demonic minds who find it difficult to accept the grievances of the Anglophone teacher’s syndicates and the *CONSORTIUM* which request basic changes in the status quo. These are the minds ordering the rape, kidnapping and killing of Anglophones.
If schools must resume in West Cameroon in September, we therefore ultimately need to overhaul our educational system. There must be a return to the three Rs (aRithmetic, Reading and wRiting) at the basic and secondary levels of education. It suffices to watch, listen and read what our children say and write to appreciate the now singsong falling standards of our educational system. If the size of school bags reflects the number of books required by schools, it is unfortunately true, that our children break their backs with overloaded school books without a corresponding enlightenment of their minds. Our school goers carry books they cannot read.
Nobody cares. Cameroun government betrayed its callousness to the quality of education this academic year 2017, by forcing the willing Trojan horses among Anglophone students to be examined in subjects they were never taught. Not being a pedagogue, and never being punished with the subject at teacher formation called pedagogy, may I naively say it is not pedagogical to examine learners in subjects they have not been taught. If Cameroun government really cared about the quality of our educational system, they should not have been forcing students, at gunpoint, to write the GCE, First School Leaving Certificate, and common entrance in 2017.
All schools in the Cameroon Anglophone subsystem of education, having realized how much damage has been done to their education should go back to the *three Rs* to inculcate excellent *Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic* skills in our children, to bring them back to par with a system we once worshipped and praised, which was also the awe of Western Universities. It is no secret that West Cameroon students excel in Western universities across Europe and America.
As a West Cameroonian, I am fully aware of the important role school boycotts across the territory played in peacefully bringing our struggle to the attention of the international community. We need better minds and another generation of enlightened Southern Cameroonians like Ntumfoyn Boh Herbert et al to aptly articulate our plight to whatever audience is desirous to know the truth. School resumption, therefore, could not be further negotiated or bargained with the oppressor. We have slavishly been subjected to their pedagogy of depersonalization to a point where some house slaves, think we field slaves hate education. We love schooling and education. Do we get schooling and appropriate education as bonded slaves of the French Republic and its stooges in the Cameroun Republic?
Achobang has always stood for freedom as a Free Thinker or a mad man. I have turned down many juicy job opportunities (Hon Simon Achidi Achu, Dr. Nalova Lyonga, Prof Victor Julius Ngoh, Samson Abangma et al are witnesses) because they may put a few tainted pieces of silver in my pocket and poisoned chalices on my banquet table, but take away my FREEDOM to be who I am. Bate Besong, Yanou Michael, Hilarious Ngwa Ambe, my former friends and fellow academy at the University of Buea are nodding in approval from their early graves. The system bugs you with 30 pieces of silver to sell your brothers and tele-guide you to your early grave or incarceration. Chief Justice Ayah Paul Abine understands what I am talking about.
After condemning the Cameroun government as a *Cameroon Peoples Demolition Party (CPDM)* member of parliament, Ayah Paul Abine was starved to hunger, and tempted by crumbs from the table of our oppressors in the form of a juicier Supreme Court appointment. I saw him a few hours before Justice Ayah Paul Abine was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2015. My brother Njousi David Abang, kidnapped in March 2017 and dumped in Kondengui and then moved overnight to Buea prison, had taken me along to see his mentor and party Chairman, Justice Ayah Paul Abine. The catalogue of stage clowns in the name of SCNC members, who called on the dishonored former honorable parliamentarian, and the quality of their chatter and gossips, informed me that this was an uncomfortable odd mix to sit with. Ayah was evasive and spoke to us in monologues. Yes! No! As he fidgeted with the radio, perhaps, to confirm the secret news that he had been reappointed as a justice in Cameroon. Indeed, Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) broke the news that same day.
The episodes and anecdotal accounts with Bate Besong, Yanou Michael, Ayah Paul Abine, Kitts Mbeboh et al, inform us how Christians shun the Bible’s injunction that _‘… dogs should not return to their vomit and pigs should not go back to the mud after a bath …’_ I chuckle when people are starved to the point of eating the fecal remains (shit) of their enemies. The enemy we are talking about is a vindictive autocrat and a bunch of coldblooded rancorous murderers. Even if they claimed they murder in the supreme interest of the nation, their victims watch them from purgatory with a revengeful zombielike gaze. … and surely they will escort them in due time to the land of their early death.
My Bassa brothers, devoted bedfellows of the rogue regime say _“… c’est dans la reconciliation qu’on tue son enemi.”_ In English it may be said reconciliation is best time to kill your enemy. And the records of extrajudicial killings in Cameroon and make-believe accidents confirm that all those who have returned to the Yaounde regime in hopes of reconciliation have been disappeared.
So how do we begin the volte-face? How do we return to school in September 2017 without any of the demands and grievances of our slain, raped, kidnapped and exiled counterparts being granted? I would not say *‘NO BACK TO SCHOOL IN SEPTEMBER.’*
Rather I would propose some form of education for our children, designed to instill love, peace and joy that come with FREEDOM.
_Fon Christopher Achobang_
_Social Commentator, Human rights activist_